Brock community invited to explore Cayuga language at virtual café

Cayuga language and culture will be celebrated during a virtual community café on Tuesday, April 6 at 5 p.m.

Open to the Brock community, the event will showcase Cayuga language resources developed by students in the Introduction to Cayuga course. The projects are related to students’ interests and include translating recipes, developing an outdoor education resource, creating a teaching resource for teachers and making a resource on traditional medicines.

“I hope the Brock community will be able to witness first-hand what the journey has been like for students and receive an introduction to Cayuga language,” said Stanley Henry, Lecturer in the Faculty of Education.

The event will include 30-minute breakout presentations that will allow participants to learn more about the students’ projects and better understand how students have engaged in applied and experiential learning in the course.

By completing these projects, students have been able to gain a greater understanding of the Cayuga language and the importance of language preservation initiatives.

“Students are building the skill set of the translation process and are coming to know how preservation of Cayuga language requires creativity and ingenuity,” Henry said.

Cayuga is an Iroquoian language spoken mainly along the Grand River in southern Ontario. Just 55 people listed Cayuga as their mother tongue in the 2016 census and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) considers it to be a critically endangered language.

Henry hopes the students’ new translation skills could lead to future projects with community members who speak Cayuga language. Students have already had the opportunity to work closely with a Cayuga language speaker and learner from Six Nations of the Grand River Territory. The community partner has joined students for in-class work periods on Microsoft Teams.

“Our community partner has been able to answer students’ questions about translating words and helped students find the correct terminology to use in their resources,” Henry said. For example, the community partner would help students contextualize the word “sticky” (used to describe glue, sap, and/or syrup) so it could used for “glazing” food.

The resources being produced by students for their final projects may become part of a future publication by Turtle’s Back Publishing, a division of the Ontario Native Literacy Coalition that aims to publish Indigenous works that strengthen and amplify Indigenous knowledge.

As with other events over the past year, the café has been reimagined in an online format due to COVID-19 restrictions and will be hosted on Microsoft Teams.

To register, visit the Faculty of Education website.

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